1. Becoming Parents and Carers- Biological parents Parenting and caring are challenging experiences. Becoming a parent or carer can lead to numerous life changes in relation to physical, social, emotional and economic wellbeing. Colloquially, a parent is someone who fathers or gives birth to a child although those who nurture and raise a child are also defined as parents. Parents can be biological or social. Biological parents are those who are related to their children by blood through pregnancy (planned, unplanned or through birthing technologies). Pregnancy Pregnancy refers to the period between conception and birth where a woman carries a foetus. The cycle of pregnancy begins with ovulation. Ovulation refers to the release of an egg from the ovaries. It occurs approximately half way through the menstrual cycle. The released egg travels down the fallopian tube where fertilisation can occur if sperm meets the egg and finds its way to the core of the ovum, which then becomes the embryo. For the process to be successful, implantation needs to occur, whereby the embryo implants in the endometrium (the uterine lining). Once the embryo is implanted into the endometrium, a membrane forms around the embryo called the chorion, which connects the womb and the embryo and develops the placental tissues. Once a woman has ovulated, conceived and the embryo has been implanted, the foetus develops over approximately 40 weeks (9 months) which is split into trimesters. The first trimester relates to the period between conception and 12 weeks. Nutrition and pre-natal care is crucial within this period. The second trimester relates to the period between 13 and 27 weeks. The third trimester relates to the period between 29 weeks and the birth of the baby. Pregnancy can be planned or unplanned. Planned pregnancies refer to pregnancies that have been premeditated. A woman may intend to become pregnant and may prepare for it to happen. Parents can plan a pregnancy by ensuring they are physically, emotionally and economically ready to have a child. Planning may be a long-term process where parents ensure they are physically healthy and fit, emotionally ready for the multitude of ups and downs of parenting and economically prepared for the costs associated with the baby. For example, a family may prepare for their changed financial situation when the baby is born as the mother may no longer work and the father may reduce hours to spend time with his child. Alternatively, pregnancy can be unplanned where it may happen unintentionally. An unplanned pregnancy can be emotionally difficult and intense. The woman and/or man need to weigh up their options and make a decision regarding the pregnancy, they may choose to keep the baby, terminate the pregnancy or have the baby and give it up for adoption. IVF and GIFT Fertility treatment is an option when there are issues associated with pregnancy such as infertility. Infertility refers to the inability of women to conceive or men to impregnate. Infertility can be caused by a range of issues such as ovulation disorders, endometriosis, reproductive issues as well as the age of the parents. Parent/s may choose to use fertility treatment to assist conception and enhance their chances at conceiving. Common fertility treatments in Australia include In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT). IVF occurs by preparing a womans body for fertilisation by administering treatment associated with hormone stimulation. Once a woman is physically suitable (i.e. their hormone levels are appropriate) a womans ovaries are stimulated to increase the production of eggs. The eggs are then collected from the ovaries and placed with the sperm in a laboratory to administer fertilisation. Embryo development is promoted by placing the fertilised eggs into incubators. If fertilisation is successful, embryos are transferred into the womans uterus in the hope she will become pregnant. There are costs associated with IVF. GIFT is another fertility treatment, commonly used when infertility is unexplained. GIFT is performed similarly to IVF in that the womans ovaries are stimulated and eggs are collected from the ovaries. Where IVF places the eggs and sperm together in a laboratory to promote fertilisation, GIFT places the egg and sperm into the fallopian tube where fertilisation can occur naturally.